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Titans look to NFL draft to fill holes

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The 75th NFL draft is back in action, and it’s taking over prime time for the first time ever in 2010.

This year, the first round will take place Thursday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by the second and third rounds, which will air Friday, April 23, at 6 p.m. ET. Rounds four through seven can be seen Saturday, April 24, at 10 a.m. ET.

For Titans fans, the draft, along with free agency, means addressing the issues that kept the Titans out of the playoffs last season.

The draft is also a golden opportunity for the Titans to fill holes on the roster.

Let’s take a look at where the Titans stand going into the draft.

The defense is undoubtedly the most questionable spot on the team, ranking a lowly 28th in the league in points allowed last season after finishing off an impressive 2008 season at 7th overall in points allowed.

The Titans have already lost motorman, Kyle Vanden Bosch, (DE) to the Detroit Lions, and three other starters on the defense, OLB Keith Bulluck, DE Jevon Kearse, and CB Nick Harper have been declared free agents.

Kearse is as good as gone, with his age and durability being a cause for concern. The Titans are in no rush to re-sign Harper either, he turns 36 in September.

OLB David Thornton has only one year left on his contract, and he recently underwent pectoral surgery. He was also hampered by shoulder and hip injuries throughout the 2009 season.

Six other players, DE Dave Ball, DT Tony Brown, TE Bo Scaife, LB Stephen Tulloch, DT Kevin Vickerson and RB Lendale White were tendered contracts as restricted free agents. Of these six players, only Vickerson and White have signed tendered contracts.

If another team extends an offer to one of the remaining four players, and the Titans can’t or don’t match the offer, they will lose out – sort of.

As per the NFL rules regarding restricted free agents, the Titans will receive a compensatory draft pick for each restricted free agent signed to another team.

This leaves the Titans very thin on the defensive line, thin at the linebacker position, and shaky in the backfield – although, some of these issues have already been addressed this offseason.

The Titans re-signed veteran corner Rod Hood after a surprising late season performance. Hood tied for second on the team with three interceptions, snatching up one interception in each of the first three games he played.

They also signed a former first round selection in CB Tye Hill, the 4-year veteran comes to LP Field from the Atlanta Falcons.

The defensive line has only seen one change, signing 7-year veteran DE Jason Babin. The Titans snagged Babin when his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, failed to match the Titans offer.

The most dramatic move thus far has been at linebacker. The Titans signed 9-year veteran LB Will Witherspoon, who has 127 games of NFL experience. He has recorded 20 sacks and nine interceptions over the course of his career, and he’s an extremely versatile player, spending time at both the outside and middle linebacker position.

Titans on the Clock

The Titans pick 16th in the first round this year, but not to worry, this year’s draft is overflowing with defensive prodigies to be. And, the Titans were awarded three compensatory picks for this year’s draft.

They don’t have a second round pick, because they traded it to New England during last year’s draft for the chance to move up and grab TE Jared Cook. Instead they have two third round picks.

So, who will be left at No. 16, and will the Titans pick by team needs, or by who they think is the most valuable player still on the board?

The NFL draft has become quite unpredictable in recent years, and the Titans have a reputation for picking virtual unknowns and “diamonds in the rough.”

However, because the 2010 draft is so overloaded with defensive prospects, I think the Titans will go with need, and choose a defensive lineman.

Mike Mayock, NFL Network’s draft “guru” analyst, lists DE Brandon Graham (Mich.) at No. 16 in his top 20. He is a scheme versatile player – but the Titans are a 4-3 defense and they like speed on the end and massive strength in the middle.

If DT Dan Williams (Tenn.) is still available, or the Titans can move up a couple of spots in the draft, they may go with him.

Sergio Kindle (Texas) is listed at No. 18 in Mayock’s top 20, and he is expected to be either a defensive end or linebacker in the NFL. This possibility may appeal to the Titans because they need to fill both positions. He is an “explosive pass rusher and a playmaker.”

DT Brian Price (UCLA) is the prototypical Titans player, and because he isn’t the “typical height” for the position, (6’1”) he may very well be available at No. 16. Price penetrates the line of scrimmage with quickness, he has strong hands that will hold blockers at bay, he’s a bull rusher with power, and he has a diverse range of pass rush moves.

Much like Sergio Kindle, DE Jerry Hughes (TCU) is an appealing option. He can be used on either the defensive line as a DE, or as a LB. He’s a natural athlete, with good instincts, speed, and power.

Now that you know the variables, who do you think the Titans will pick in the first round?
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Members Opinions:
April 23, 2010 at 9:09pm
Some shocks and disappointments, lets hope Derrick Morgan turns out to be the "next coming" of Jevon Kearse-circa 1999, as some analysts say.
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